Mission El Salvador Day 1
Most of the first day was spent getting to El Salvador. My journey started at 5 am Austin time and didn’t pass through customs until 1 pm El Salvadoran time. El Salvador has had a little less than half a day to open my eyes. This was far more abundance than this land needed.
First of all, I must repeat what every El Salvadoran had told me when I planned this trip. Their country *is* beautiful. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well I’ve already exhausted all the memory in my camera and I couldn‘t capture the beauty I‘ve seen here. So in the few words allotted for this post all I can say about this bustling latin american city built on top of a rolling volcanic mountain range covered in a lush tropical forest is … it’s gorgeous. It’s just gorgeous.
But what others seemed cautioned me about El Salvador is also true. El Salvador is a land marred by a long history of poverty and violence. This poverty and violence are still there today. Gangs are so prevalent here that the leader of our mission (Sister Gloria) reluctantly meets with their leaders to assure our safety. In the past Sister Gloria’s life was threatened by greedy factory owners. The party responsible for murdering Romero, Catholic Sisters and Jesuits priests was still in power only a few years ago. A new party has risen in the chaos and they march their leaders carrying large weapons. No I am not in danger! Sister Gloria and everyone one who works for them feels safe because they are on God’s side. That is to say that even in this violent world, the gangs, the politicians and the rest all understood the mission here provides love for the children and no one dare threaten that.
The most memorable experience of our first day was walking up a mountain dubbed the Puerta Del Diablo (Gate of the Devil). The mountain owes its name to an El Salvadoran folk legend. According to the legend there once was peasant girl who was so beautiful that she won the heart of both a noble prince and the devil. In fear of the devil’s jealousy the prince tried to sneak away with his peasant bride on a donkey. But the Devil discovered them and shook the earth and filled the sky with lightning. One lightning bolt split the donkey in two and cut a wide valley where the Puerta Del Diablo is now leaving lovers on opposite sides.
In a way this folk tale is the story of El Salvador. Maybe our world. So beautiful are the people here they have won the heart of the prince of peace and the desires of the devil. The devil can’t send lightning and earthquakes here. But he has used the greed of the rich, the fears of the American government, the corruption of nearby communist states, and the violence in men here to accomplish the same thing. He has torn this land apart and forced a great valley of sin between those who Christ called to be lovers. But our tale doesn’t have to end there. We are separated by a valley of sin, but our love remains. And while our love for one of another is weak the love of our prince knows no limits. What we need now is the faith of a mustard seed. With that our lord can move these mountains back together. My challenge to you this post is to look past the valleys of sin the Devil uses to divide us and fall in love again with the children of God on the other side.